Running Two Oceans (half) as a Vegan

What a week! I don’t think I understood the magnitude of the famous Two Oceans Marathon until I found myself in the midst of it this year. Even though I didn’t race the 56km Ultra Marathon, running the half and working at the expo, promoting veganism, was an unbelievable experience. I was blown away by the increase in vegan-friendly sports nutrition, the general public’s interest in veganism, my body’s ability to improve rapidly between two half-marathon races and finally, by the overwhelming sense of community around the race. A few vegan (and non-vegan) folks asked what I eat before, during and after a race and so I thought I’d share some insight – and give you a glimpse of what went down at the expo.

Leading up to the big event on Saturday, I joined the Vegilicious team for vegan advocacy “work” at the Two Ocean’s Marathon Expo. You can’t really call it work when you are planting seeds of compassion, one nugget at a time! Over the three days we handed out over 11 000 Fry’s chicken-style nuggets while informing visitors and exhibitors about the benefits of eating a diet fueled by plants.

Nuggets weren’t the only vegan-friendly snacks at the expo:

  • Nature’s Delicacies showcased their variety of Nākd bars and Trek snacks, made form 100% natural, vegan ingredients. I tried their new Carrot Cake flavour, as well as the new TREK Energy Protein Chunks – the Toffee Triumph flavour is out of this world and one serving contains 12grams of plant-powered protein.
  • GU Energy, as always, offered an array of gels, chews and hydration drinks that are all 100% vegan. The products provide your depleted body with the amino acids, carbohydrates, hydration and electrolytes needed during endurance sports – and they come in many different flavours! I prefer the orange GU Energy chews but I’m excited to try the brand-new GU Birthday Cake gel in celebration of their 25-year birthday.
  • I was most impressed by the range of vegan-friendly sports nutrition products offered by 32Gi. They have everything from endurance hydration drinks and chewable tabs to foodbars, caffeine shots and recovery “milkshakes” … all plant-based!

So, what did I eat before, during and after the race?

Friday: CARB UP the day before, not only the night before.

  • Breakfast: Two blocks of Weetbix with Almond Breeze, a drop of stevia and a scoop of nut butter.
  • Snacks: Raw, unsalted almonds, fruit and a few Fry’s nuggets at the expo.
  • Lunch: Two slices of whole-wheat toast with hummus, baby spinach, cucumber, tomato, gherkins, dried mixed herbs, Sriracha and nutritional yeast.
  • Dinner: Usually pasta, but this time around Don and I opted for a boiled potato, fresh rocket and homemade, oil-free hummus. Lentil and grain salad, stir-fried with extra vegetables and Fry’s Thick Cut Chunky Strips, and topped with fresh avocado and a sundried tomato dressing.

Saturday: RACE DAY!

  • Breakfast (as soon as I woke up): Two slices of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, maple syrup and a sliced banana. A cup of black coffee with a teaspoon of sugar. My daily supplements: B12 supplement, Iron supplement and Omega 3.
  • On the way to the race: ½ packet of TREK Energy chunks in Toffee Triumph flavor.
  • At the race: 250ml water with Rehydrate sport in Lime flavor (DID YOU KNOW that we are often already dehydrated before we even start the race. Make sure you drink something prior to the race, you will sweat it out before the first water point).
  • During the race: 3x GU Energy chews in Orange flavor. One as we started, one 45 minutes later and one another 25 minutes later. NB! Water or Powerade at every water station. I do not skip one. Also, it is very important to have water with each GU gel or chew you take. If the gels or chews (or any food consumed while you run) make you feel nauseous, it is because you are dehydrated!
  • Immediately after he race: Coke, TREK Oats and Raisins Protein Flapjack Bar and 32Gi Protein Recovery Chocolate shake (I made it with 450ml of water, but next time I’ll try it with Almond Breeze).
  • After the race when we got home: Nuun active tab dissolved in water (for hydration and to replenish lost electrolytes), a homemade chocolate smoothie with bananas, Almond Breeze, cacao, chia seeds, flax seeds, dates and a dash of turmeric (a great anti-inflammatory for sore muscles).
  • Late lunch: ½ Kauai Plant Power salad and ½ Winter Nourish Warm Bowl (no parmesan or pesto) and a double soy latte.
  • Naughty Dinner: Celebratory drinks and pizza, wedges with lots of salt and homemade vegan burgers at Oblivion Pub.

NOTE: Remember, I am not a nutritionist or dietitian and that I eat according to what I know works for me on race day. Everyone is different, and you will have to play around (during training) to see what your body prefers. For instance, some runners love oats in the morning but that will make me run to the closet porter-loo instead of the finish line. NEVER eat, drink or do something new on race day!

My race went incrediby well! I ran the 21 km in 1 hour 46 minutes (5:01 minutes per km) – a personal best 😀 I was really worried about running a Sub 2-hour race as I didn’t put nearly as much effort into my training as I should have. I did, however, run consistantly with my family and with Don. After the Two Oceans Half Marathon I am really inspired to run my first full marathon before the end of this year, and maybe even take on the Ultra next year!

Happy running!

Vegan love,

Leo

Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by any of the brands mentioned in this post, except for Almond Breeze and Fry’s that often send me products to try. But I would and have used both these brands regardless.

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